Project Status

Project Type:  Borehole Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Impact: 291 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Mar 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/17/2024

Project Features

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DEC Matong Primary School is at the crossroads of Bonfi and Matong villages from where it draws students. The school was started by Abu Mansaray, who is now the member of parliament representing the constituency. Then, the District Education Council came on board, took charge of the school, and over the years has made improvements in the area of teacher certifications and payment of salaries. The school began with just a handful of students, growing over time to the current population of 291 students today.

Despite all of this progress, there is no functional water point at the school. Construction for a well at the school began in 2012, but it was never finished.

The nearest available water for the school is at Bonfi Village, which is more than two miles away. Since Bonfi is closer than Matong, the students living there must bring water to the school each day. Every day the children take the long walk to the village to fetch water. At the end of every school day, they go home with their empty containers that are brought back with water the following school day.

Mohamed Lamin Sesay became the school's headteacher shortly after the well project at the school was abandoned. He is frustrated by the inability of the school to provide water to the students.

"Words cannot begin to show what I have been feeling in my heart. I have been promised help so many times that I had finally given up because I saw no light at the end of the tunnel. It is very dangerous, highly unethical, and against the law to send children to a school without a safe water supply," he said.

It has become part of their school curriculum for students to volunteer to carry water to the school every day. Walking two miles with a bucket of water on the head takes a lot out of anyone, especially children. A common statement by students is "an empty bag cannot stand." They mean that with hours of work and no food in their stomachs, they are less likely to pay attention and more likely to fall asleep in class.

The well in Bonfi becomes dry a few months each year, which poses a problem for the students. Those dry months happen to be during the school year. So, the students in Bonfi have to turn to other water sources - in some cases, open scoop holes contaminated with waterborne diseases.

Here’s what we’re going to do about it:

Well Rehabilitation

The well marked for this overhaul is dry for a few months every year and needs major work to supply adequate, clean water to the community year-round. The pump will be removed, and a hand auger will be lowered inside and powered by a drill team. This hand auger will allow the team to drill several meters deeper to hit a sufficient water column to ensure the well supplies water throughout all seasons.

As the team drills, casing will be installed, transforming the bottom of this hand-dug well into a borehole. PVC piping will connect this lower system directly to the pump, a construction that we know will also improve the quality of water.

Once this plan is implemented, everyone within the community will have access to safe drinking water in both quality and quantity, even through the dry months.

Hygiene and Sanitation Training

There will be hygiene and sanitation training sessions offered for three days in a row.

"The hygiene and sanitation in this community has been steadily improving even though we have a long ways to go," said Mammy Kamara.

After our visit, the hygiene and sanitation trainer decided it would be best to teach community members how to build a tippy tap (a hand-washing station built with a jerrycan, string, and sticks). They will use these tippy taps for handwashing demonstrations, and will also teach about other tools like dish racks and the importance of properly penning in animals.

This training will also strengthen the water user committee that manages and maintains this well. They enforce proper behavior and report to us whenever they need our help solving a serious problem, like a pump breakdown.

Project Updates

March, 2022: Matong, DEC Primary School Well Rehabilitation Complete!

We are excited to share a safe, reliable water point at DEC Primary School in Matong, Sierra Leone is now providing clean water to students and neighboring community members! We also conducted hygiene and sanitation training, which focused on healthy practices such as handwashing and using latrines.

"Not having water at the school was a very bad experience," said 15-year-old Fatmata Y. "I [would] find myself walking back to the village at least four times during school hours either to get water to drink or to use the latrine. Mostly to drink water, because the dust from the classroom chokes and dries my throat frequently, causing me and other students to cough and sneeze often."

"Now that this water well is completed, I can easily go outside my classroom and get a cup of water to drink," Fatmata continued. "There is also enough water to soak the floor so the dust will not fill the entire room. [We] can now wash off the dust from [our] faces, feet, and uniform several times during the day, causing less stains and damage."

"Now that this water point is complete, some of my goals are to get better grades in school, to keep myself clean during school hours, and make sure hand washing after toilet use becomes a daily thing," Fatmata said.

"I can clearly say, I am the luckiest and blessed Head Teacher in the entire chiefdom," said Head Teacher Mohamed Sesay.

Mohamed Sesay at the rehabilitated well.

He continued: "I can finally come to school and focus on making sure the students are taught very well, while in the past the frequent trips out of the school compound for use of the latrine at the villages or to get water to drink were the biggest hindrance. I can get a sound sleep from now on. This is a blessing."

We held a dedication ceremony to officially hand over the well to the community members. The ceremony was attended by quite a few local dignitaries: the Director of Environmental Health at the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, the District Health Superintendent, the District Planning Officer of Port Loko District Council, the District Mapping Officer from the Port Loko Ministry of Water Resources, the Port Loko District Valuation Officer, the Ward Councilor, the Senior Inspector of Schools from the Ministry of Basic Senior Secondary Education, and the Section Chief.

Each official gave a short speech thanking everyone who contributed to the rehabilitation of the water project. Then, Mohamed and Fatmata made statements on their community's behalf. The ceremony concluded with celebration, singing, and dancing.

Clean Water Restored

The drill team arrived the day before beginning work. They set up camp and unpacked all of their tools and supplies to prepare for drilling the next day. The community provided space for the team to store their belongings, along with meals for the duration of their stay. The following day, the work began.

First, we raised the tripod, the structure we use to hold and maneuver each of the drilling tools. Next, we measured the well's original depth. We then socketed the pipes and installed a casing.

Finally, we lined up the drill rods and started to drill! We reached a final depth of ten meters with water at five meters. The hand-drill method allowed the team to install the cylinder far below the aquifer so that the community has great water access throughout the year.

With drilling complete, we installed screening and a filter pack to keep out debris when the water is pumped. We then cemented an iron rod to the well lining and fixed it with an iron collar at the top. Next, we bailed the well by hand for three days and flushed it, clearing any debris generated by the drilling process. Finally, we tested the yield to ensure the well would provide clean water with minimal effort at the pump.

Bailing in progress.

As the project neared completion, we built a cement platform, walls, and drainage system around the well to seal it off from surface-level contaminants. The drainage system helps to redirect runoff and spilled water to help avoid standing water at the well, which can not only be uncomfortable but unhygienic and a breeding ground for disease-carrying mosquitoes.

At last, we installed the stainless steel India Mk11 pump and conducted a water quality test. The test results showed that this is clean water fit for drinking!

New Knowledge

Before conducting any hygiene training, we made repeated phone calls and visits to the local water user committee to better understand the community’s challenges and lack of sanitation facilities. We shared the findings from our discussions with the committee members to help them make the necessary adjustments before the training began. For example, we identified households without handwashing stations or ones that may need to repair their latrines. With this information, community members worked together to improve hygiene and sanitation at home.

After this preparatory period, we scheduled a time when members from each household using the water point could attend a multi-day hygiene and sanitation training. We then dispatched our teams to the agreed-upon location to hold the meeting.

Training topics covered included handwashing and tippy taps, good and bad hygiene habits, disease transmission and prevention, worms and parasites, dental hygiene, proper care of the well's pump, keeping the water clean, the cost recovery system, dish racks and clotheslines, the importance of toilets, keeping latrines clean, balanced diets, the diarrhea doll, and HIV and AIDS.

"This training is going to change my life and the lives of my schoolchildren for the better," said Mohamed Sesay. "We are now more prepared to handle the day-to-day issues that can be easily avoided with latrine defecation and regular and proper handwashing. The entire school and community were eagerly awaiting the training."

"I am happy to be part of the training," said Fatmata K., 12, who was elected to the student health club.

"I learned a lot about hand washing, dish racks, and hanging clothes on a clothesline," Fatmata continued. "Most of the people in my village put their clothes on the ground to dry. I am going to make sure I share this information with them. The knowledge I gained will be used at school and my home to teach my parents about hygiene and sanitation."

When an issue arises concerning the well, community members are equipped with the necessary skills to rectify the problem and ensure the water point works appropriately. However, if the issue is beyond their capabilities, they can contact our field officers to assist them. Also, we will continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our ongoing monitoring and maintenance program.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

January, 2022: DEC Primary School Well Rehabilitation Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at DEC Primary School drains students’ time, energy, and health. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a clean water point and much more.

Get to know this school through the introduction and pictures we’ve posted, and read about this water, sanitation, and hygiene project. We look forward to reaching out with more good news!

Project Photos

Project Type

Abundant water is often right under our feet! Beneath the Earth’s surface, rivers called aquifers flow through layers of sediment and rock, providing a constant supply of safe water. For borehole wells, we drill deep into the earth, allowing us to access this water which is naturally filtered and protected from sources of contamination at the surface level. First, we decide where to drill by surveying the area and determining where aquifers are likely to sit. To reach the underground water, our drill rigs plunge through meters (sometimes even hundreds of meters!) of soil, silt, rock, and more. Once the drill finds water, we build a well platform and attach a hand pump. If all goes as planned, the community is left with a safe, closed water source providing around five gallons of water per minute! Learn more here!

A Year Later: "We get water at any time of the day"

March, 2023

A year ago, your generous donation helped Matong DEC Primary School in Sierra Leone access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Kadiatu. Thank you!

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Matong DEC Primary School.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Matong DEC Primary School maintain access to safe, reliable water. Together, they keep The Water Promise.

We’re confident you'll love joining this world-changing group committed to sustainability!

Last year, the students at Matong DEC Primary School used to walk over two miles to collect water from a community waterpoint to meet their needs each day. Construction started on an older well within the school campus years ago, but it was never completed and did not produce water.

"Before, the water point was not pure to drink. It [would] dry [up] during the dry season. It was difficult to do proper hygiene practices," said 15-year-old Kadiatu K.

But since the well on the school campus was rehabilitated last year, things have been different for everyone.

"Thank you for providing us [with] safe and pure drinking water. We get water at any time of the day," said Kadiatu.

Not only do the students have access to water anytime they need it, but there are other benefits to their health, and the school's overall hygiene and sanitation have improved.

"We don't have sickness again from drinking dirty water," said Kadiatu. "[And] we have enough water to clean our school toilet."

With less sickness and improved hygiene, the future looks brighter with more time in school for students to learn.

Kadiatu outside the well.

Navigating through intense dry spells, performing preventative maintenance, conducting quality repairs when needed and continuing to assist community leaders to manage water points are all normal parts of keeping projects sustainable. The Water Promise community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Matong DEC Primary School maintain access to safe, reliable water.

We’d love for you to join this world-changing group committed to sustainability.

The most impactful way to continue your support of Matong DEC Primary School – and hundreds of other places just like this – is by joining our community of monthly givers.

Your monthly giving will help provide clean water, every month... keeping The Water Promise.


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